Submitted By: CEHD America Reads- Megan Pieters
As another school year begins, undergraduate students from across the University of Minnesota are applying to the CEHD America Reads Program. Selected applicants will become literacy mentors (tutors) for Kindergarten – 8th grade students in nearly 20 schools and community centers in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Those who are new to the program may not know it, but they will be presented with countless opportunities to practice independence and engage in interdependence throughout the year. They will be called upon to act as individual role-models for young students, while learning to rely on each other for support and problem-solving. They will look to America Reads staff for preparation and training, and they will access site coordinators for on-going guidance and feedback. They will turn to each other for advice, and they will even depend on one another for transportation to and from the tutoring sites!
Literacy mentors are always working in conjunction with site staff, but they must also take initiative to engage with mentees on a regular basis in order to build relationships and ultimately provide academic support. In working with children, they will inevitably face difficult decisions about when to take the lead and when to consult co-workers, site staff, or supervisors for assistance. All of these experiences will lead to a heightened understanding of their self-sufficiency as well as their interconnectedness with everyone they encounter. One literacy mentor said “I used to think America Reads mentors were somewhat detached figures in their tutoring locations, but now I see that we are very involved in each child’s daily life, education, and future. “
Each literacy mentor acts as one part of a greater whole that is the America Reads Program. The sites rely on the literacy mentors to provide additional academic support and role modeling for young students who will one day be navigating their own independence, as unique parts of another whole, the Twin Cities community.